Review by Terry Gaisin
The late comedian W.C. Fields avowed that actors should never perform with kids or pets. Rationale – being upstaged. WEST’s quartet of males involved with Norm Foster’s “THE FOURSOME” had an opening night audience totally distracted by a spider weaving a large web -stage-right. This non-ACTRA performer, a large anthropoid arachnid happened to be weaving its web against a black backdrop and under a non-white Kleiglight – perfect illumination!
The play, once interest returned, is about a golf game as part of a fifteen year college reunion, and like an onion, the strips are peeled away revealing the duffer; the con artist; reticent member and the sensitive one.
There’s humor in both characterizations and dialogue, plus stereotypical personas easily recognizable in director Yo Mustafa‘s direction of his individual players. The pivotal character is Rick and Jeff Morrison epitomizes the Florida salesman-type usually pushing swampland. In this case he sells boats. My muse, having worked for an American firm of ex ‘Tin Men’-type operators made me familiar with the shady side and con that is ubiquitous with the genus. Morrison even portrays the stance and body language utilized.
Paul Wilson gives a credible reading of ‘Ted’, the computer non-geek, who is reserved and somewhat self-effacing, with a charming slight British accent (like HRH; no final “R”s – fatha; weatha, riva etc. ) that seems to be the new pop style of U.S. Radio & TV talking heads. His empathy towards his old schoolmates shows no patronizing or condescension towards any of his old friends. Remarried to a wife twenty- years his junior, his manner of ignoring the jibs about this arrangement rings natural as does his involvement with a new religion at her request.
Cameron, an agent for TV commercials is played by Amin Rahmani and he is the most sympathetic of the quartet. There are hints about his financial security but are subtle enough as to not be a spoiler.
The duffer and hardware store manager is WEST’s stalwart Chris Reid. His ‘Donny’ persona will reverberate with every golfer in the audience, to a point where his post-driver expression will elicit the usual ‘Ah Shit’ after every hook or slice. His innate sense of timing takes the edge off even the most biting of his dialogue zingers.
Obviously, Mustafa has enough confidence in his players’ talents as to allow them personal leeway in their individual portrayals. His showcasing of the competitiveness; family situations; lives of the protagonists, and LIFE itself, makes the play more than just a brief comedic performance. The plot’s approximate 6,000yds (or 5486.6 metres) are visually elicited by having the golfers go around and behind a curtain, then back to a green rug, centre-stage. Very effective; thus the play’s progress is consistent and uninterrupted. Two benches and the requisite golf bags are the only props so focus remains uninhibited on the thespians.
Neither my muse nor I have ever attended a school reunion. But THE FOURSOME gives quick insight into what a decade of separation must do to a close unit that re-connects. Fortunately, we’ve both maintained a close contact with those people who were our friends six decades back! The Foursome are at the Oakville Centre (rather than Glen Abbey) until Oct. 21st.